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DECLINE AND FALL
May 15, 2017  | By David Bianculli

Acorn TV, 3:00 a.m. ET

 

MINISERIES PREMIERE: Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited inspired one of the most celebrated miniseries ever made, the 1981 version starring Jeremy Irons. Now, from Acorn TV, comes another import devoted to a work by the same author. Decline and Fall, though, while it’s set in the same gorgeous posh British estates and institutions, is a lot more comic and playful an approach. It’s Waugh’s first novel, and he delights in playing with his caricatured characters – which, in turn, allows the TV show’s actors to play with almost giddy abandon. Jack Whitehall plays the naïve yet resourceful young man at its center, but Decline and Fall is stolen by two more familiar faces: David Suchet, once the great Poirot, now playing a silly and stuffy headmaster, and Eva Longoria, who plays Margo Beste-Chetwynde – a privileged American married into British society and then widowed, as though she’s a costumed cougar sent through time straight from Desperate Housewives.

 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is now available in paperback for under $15. Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. Interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer are high points... Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

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